at 111 N. Potomac St. Do you remember the name of Mary Condon, stylist and clothing store owner?
The new exhibition at Miller House features a Mary Condon original – a delightful 1930s voile evening dress with a soft floral print, dramatic ruffled sleeves and a full-length skirt. This dress is a small thread in the history of Washington County’s prosperous business women and clothing shops of the early 20th century.
Mary Condon’s Style Shop was in operation from the 1920s to 1946. Store owner Mary Condon (nee Moran) was born in Hagerstown in 1888. She lived with her family on North Mulberry Street, working as a stenographer at WD Byron & Sons Tannery. In 1924, she married David H. Condon, a local physician. She then opened Mary Condon’s Style Shop, dressing the women of Washington County for 25 years.
In the year During the 1930s, Condon hosted style shows and advertised her styling services in The Daily Mail and The Morning Herald. She often traveled to New York, returning with the latest fashion. In 1934, she decorated wedding receptions in the area with dresses in colors such as watermelon, lavender, and aqua green, worn by brides by Anna F. Diehl.
Condon leased her stores to Hagerstown Martins in 1946. A company that opened a clothing store at that location until 1956. A fashion hub, Martins sold designer clothes for youth, wives and women. But even after Mary Condon’s store closed and her death in 1969, her reputation as a famous stylist and shop owner continued.
What makes Mary Condon’s legacy unique—beyond her store filled with fabulous clothing—is her connection to a network of wealthy businesswomen throughout Washington County history. Before Condon opened her store, she purchased an interest in Alice Wigley Wagner’s store in Hagerstown, an equally prominent and well-known business woman.
Alice Wegley was born in Cavetown in 1880. After becoming a secretary, she worked in the children’s corset department of PA Brugh and Hagerstown. Because of her wiggly talent, her employer sent her to New York to study custom corset fitting techniques.
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She returned to Hagerstown, giving women the first customized corsets sold in a Hagerstown department store. Wigley opened her own corset and underwear store on North Potomac Street.
In 1922, Alice married John C. Wagner, who sold her interest in the store to Mary Condon, who soon opened her own store. Alice Wagner later worked as a buyer and salesperson at Airlie’s Department Store before opening another store of her own on South Potomac Street, offering custom-fitting corsets, clothing and accessories. She died in 1960.
Mary Condon and Alice Wagner illustrate the influence of women in Washington County’s fashion and business history. These women measured, modeled and decorated the local people in the fashion of the day, creating fond memories and leaving behind dresses like the one on display at the Miller House.
See Mary Condon’s 1930s Violle dress — and other interesting artifacts created by women in Washington County — in “Behind Washington County: Styles and Stitches,” the newest exhibit curated by interim curator Shannon Baker.